I’m feeling like that little girl from the movie “Signs”, the one who left the glasses of water everywhere that later became instrumental in the annihilation of creepy aliens.
Except it’s packets of hand wipes and my obsessive penchant for hand cleanliness that will save my family from getting covid-19.
For 15 years, I have been “the germaphobe”, carrying around Wet Ones in my purse just to have this moment of validation! And while I do so enjoy being right, there’s not a lot to savor here.
Has my anxiety disorder and OCD traits lent me evolutionary protection?
I’m being glib, but I am really trying to build a case here that being a stress-bag can pay out huge dividends as a survival strategy. Let us examine my mild tendency to horde things.
During my first pregnancy, I developed a mild hording mentality. This was pre 2-day shipping on Amazon, pre grocery delivery. (Yes, I refer to the antiquated days of early 2009.)
I bought extra everything! Extra toothpaste, extra shampoo, extra first aid supplies, extra diapers and pacifiers and wipes. I somehow “knew” that I was going to have a colicky baby who would not let me easily leave the house.
Was that an anxiety induced premonition? If I was making a human, he was going to be stressed out, too, so stock up on aisle 1 through 12 at Target. Know thyself and live to fight another day.
Let’s jump ahead to covid-19 times.
Right out of the gate, I took to the whole mask situation like a duck to water. I did not need any convincing that we were at war with an unseen entity. And thus, I now have a diverse cloth mask collection, as well as a substantial supply of surgical masks. I stress-buy masks many a late night, recently adding new filter material (get your Oly-fun fabric!). OCD? Perhaps? Hording? A lil’ bit! Yet, it gives me a sense of control during this pandemic.
I did not obsessively horde toilet paper. But I do understand why it happened. When confronted with an invisible enemy, the tangible roll or twelve is a touchstone and lends calm. These are my people, my mentally ill brothers and sisters.
Conversely, I feel like those people who are very lackadaisical about the future and the unknown might well be putting themselves in harms way. And harming others, more significantly. Their tendency to believe that nothing bad is going to happen to them could actually result in death.
What if those laissez faire people get exterminated? This pandemic is one hell of a case for Social Darwinism… And don’t we all know the person we’d most like to see win the Darwin Awards?
Where an ounce of precaution is worth a pound of cure, perhaps an ounce of OCD is what is keeping me safe.
While positive cases are spiking in my home state of California, my tendency to overdo it with the precautionary measures is definitely keeping my family better protected. My genetic material, “my nervous preparedness”, is going to survive and be passed along. That’s some evolution for you.
What I fear, or rather, another thing that I fear, is that after covid-19, is how am I going to tone this all down and get back to “normal”?
It could be argued that many of us are all going to come out of this pandemic with a manner of PTSD. It’s going to be a long time before I feel casual about many of the activities in which I once so casually engaged.
Shopping in a busy store, going to the movies, drinking at a bar?
Erm, not for me. Hard pass on arcades and children’s museums, too. Sorry kids. It’s nature hikes and picnics another decade.
It leaves me to wonder which other of my OCD traits will predict the next pandemic? I sure am buying a load of house plants these days. Maybe I’ll be protected against climate change? Yes, this is what I will tell my husband. It’s all about combating global climate change.